Not Listenin’tome set the cat among the pigeons with a stunning win in the HKG3 National Day Cup (1000m) at the start of October and trainer John Moore’s exciting charge will attempt to confirm the merit of that run when he takes on a field packed with stars in the HKG2 Premier Bowl (Handicap) over a furlong farther at Sha Tin on Sunday (25 October).
The five-year-old sped clear of his rivals to secure a two-length victory last time under Neil Callan, with G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen runner-up Super Jockey a running-on second. On Sunday the gelding is slated to return to the 1200m at which he won the HKG3 Sha Tin Vase (Handicap) back in May and Moore is confident of another big run.
“He’s bucking his brand off at the moment and he seems to have improved in his work since that facile win the other day,” said the handler. “If that’s the case he’s going to be the horse to beat, with Gold-Fun as the probable danger. He’s right on track. He should be the favourite in the race. Neil will ride him again and he’ll probably carry 119lb, with a pound overweight.”
Among the Dylan Thomas gelding’s 13 likely opponents are Hong Kong’s Champion Sprinter Aerovelocity (124lb), former two-time champ Lucky Nine (122lb), G1 winner Amber Sky (118lb), and fellow top-flight gallopers Gold-Fun (127lb) and Peniaphobia (122lb). His most intriguing opponent, however, is undoubtedly his own stablemate, Able Friend (133lb) - Hong Kong’s Champion Miler and Horse of the Year.
The giant red chestnut is entered to have his first start since running a below-par sixth to Europe’s star miler Solow in the G1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot back in June. In this race last year Able Friend had looked like putting the sprinters in their places when he loomed up on the home turn and quickened impressively, only to falter through lack of fitness.
“Able Friend was well underdone when he ran fourth last season and I can assure everyone that we have a lot fitter horse this season,” said Moore. “As I’ve already said, sprinters beware! Champions can sprint well fresh, we know that. If he won it wouldn’t be a surprise.”
G2 winner Charles The Great (116lb) and the smart Secret Sham (117lb) are also set to represent the Moore team, while the talented racers Dundonnell (120lb), Bundle Of Joy (116lb), Smart Volatility (114lb), Golden Harvest (113lb) and Tour De Force (113lb) are engaged to complete the line-up.
The day’s other feature, the HKG2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy (Handicap), will see established G1 stalwarts lock horns with a cohort of rising stars. Moore has engaged five from his stable, the triple G1 winner Dan Excel (131lb), 2013 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase victor Dominant (126lb), last season’s G1 Champions Mile runner-up Rewarding Hero (126lb), and Helene Happy Star (123lb) and Harbour Master (123lb), third and fifth in a blanket finish to last season’s G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m).
“In the mile race, those horses are all on the road to the Jockey Club races in November and then the December internationals,” said Moore. “I’m excited to have our Group horses out and en route to the invitation races in December. We can get them back in full swing now.”
“Dan Excel will improve for the run - he’s carrying condition so that will definitely improve him. The longer term plan is the Dubai Turf, the 1800m race in Dubai in March, now that the Singapore race has gone. If we don’t get the invite to Dubai there’s a very good chance we’d go back to Australia for The Championships in the spring.
“Rewarding Hero’s last run behind Contentment was very promising and he’s threatened to nick one of these good races. He’s just been beaten by very good horses, even though he is himself a very good horse. His work leading into this has been good and (Karis) Teetan said he’s on a high with respect to his chances at the weekend - he’s really pleased with his work going into it.”
The John Size-trained Contentment (120lb) is entered for a bid to enhance his reputation after a first-up victory in the HKG3 Celebration Cup (Handicap - 1400m) over several of Sunday’s rivals. The five-year-old is seeking an eighth win at his 11th start.
G1 winners Blazing Speed and Military Attack jointly head the weights on 133lb, while Helene Super Star, winner of the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) last term, has been allotted 126lb.
Along with Contentment, last season’s HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Mile winner, Beauty Only (119lb), and third, Giant Treasure, (116lb) are likely to carry the torch for last season’s Four-Year-Old Series contenders. The useful duo Rainbow Chic (117lb) and Pleasure Gains (120lb) are also engaged.
Final declarations for Sunday’s races will be made tomorrow, Friday 23 October.